It’s All Greek to Me
07.09.2018 - 07.09.2018
We couldn’t believe our 5 days on Zakynthos were already over. It was up at 6:00 a.m. to catch a flight to the next island: Kefalonia.
We had a moment of panic when we reached the small airport, checked our bags, and then realized the wine we had bought the day before was in Matt’s backpack.
I thought seriously about running into the bathroom and seeing how much of it I could drink out of the bottle before we boarded, but, in the end, we simply left it with the rental car guy as a “thank you” for upgrading us from our economy car to the Jeep (that we nearly destroyed). We also hoped he’d remember our generous gift if he happened to notice any odd ….scratches…that might not have been there before…..
The flight was short and sweet. We found ourselves standing at the single, tiny bag belt at the Kefalonia airport at 9:00 a.m.
Kefalonia (or Cephalonia…it was maddening how everything seemed to have two names…Zakynthos or Zante? Daphne or Dafni? Kefalonia or Cephalonia?) is the biggest of the Ionian islands. The island is dominated by tall mountains, dramatic cliffs, picturesque beaches, and quaint waterfront towns. It is a more natural beauty, filled with winding roads that snake through olive groves and wild cypress, revealing hidden coves around every turn. Even the beach on the road to the airport was beautiful.
Kefalonia retains more rural charm than the other islands. It hasn’t seen some of the vast development that Zakynthos and Corfu have seen, but is instead filled with flowing vineyards, quiet villages, and gorgeous beaches.
We jumped in our little Fiat Panda and headed toward our villa, thankful that the villa manager had agreed to a very early check in.
Villa Quarda was part of Vardiola Beach Villas, a set of private houses situated right on the water in Svoronata, about 20 minutes south of the airport, on the southwest portion of the island. With four bedrooms, it was far bigger than we needed, but that infinity pool had called my name. The villa was outstanding, and the hospitality of the staff was exceptional.
We were welcomed inside, given a tour, and left with a food basked and wine.
We arrived so early that, even after taking time to unpack, we had time to hit a beach before lunch. We decided to try to find Paliolinos, which was fairly close to the villa. The first few miles of the drive were fine. We passed goats and stone houses and numerous olive groves. It was when the road started to become narrower and narrower and the pavement started to get rougher and rougher that we got a little uneasy.
When we found ourselves on a single lane dirt road, we immediately thought back to That Day We Almost Died on a Beautiful Greek Island because of the Great Driving Disaster on Goat Hill. We shouted a collective “Hell no!” and immediately turned around.
We headed to nearby Avithos Beach instead, where we found a charming seaside tavern, a beach bar, and ample loungers.
We feasted on bread, olives, hard cheese soaked in olive oil, tzatziki (a garlicky cucumber-yogurt dip), and amazing salad and beef stifado (Chunks of tender beef cooked with whole pearl onions in a rich tomato sauce that is served with a good supply of crusty bread to mop up the sauce).
In case you were wondering, yes, we were getting fat.
We enjoyed post-lunch cocktails at Cavo and beach lounging for the rest of the afternoon. Avithos was a beautiful beach with towering cliffs behind it and warm golden sand with shallow water that barely got above knee high no matter how far out you went.
We returned to the villa and cleaned up for dinner. With a little time to kill, we headed to Gentelini Winery, in hopes of replacing the wine that we had to hand over to the Budget guy for fear of being arrested as we went through airport security.
The winery was charming and served us a sampling of cheese and tomatoes with soft bread and olive oil to accompany our tasting.
I had planned for us to eat dinner at a highly recommended restaurant near the villa called Espirides. We had driven by it earlier in the day and it looked lovely. What I didn’t expect was to be told “No reservation, no eat.” They were completely booked for the entire night.
This led to a frantic search in the dark for somewhere to eat. As an uber planner….THIS NEVER HAPPENS TO ME. It was late, we were unfamiliar with the area (having just arrived), we were hungry, and it was dark. The area we were staying in wasn’t heavily populated with restaurants and “town” was more like a market and a café.
We saw a brightly lit restaurant and pulled into the parking lot.
And that is how we ended up eating at the Denny’s of Greece, folks.
We couldn’t have picked a more boring, basic, overly typical, tourist trap restaurant. This was not an authentic experience.
Acropolis Restaurant was Shoney’s with Greek columns and feta cheese.
Cheesy Greek music (basically the CD that would be called “Cheesy Greek Music” if you ordered it on Amazon) poured through the restaurant. We ate a very blah dinner with the world’s meanest cat sitting at our feet.